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Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 74 / Takacs Quartet

Haydn / Takacs Quartet
Release Date: 11/08/2011 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67781   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Takács String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"The Takács play this ever-surprising music with their characteristic imagination, contrapuntal rigour, sensitivity to texture and colour, and, in the dizzying finales, wit. They are the epitome of Goethe's four intelligent conversationalists, always fresh in their response to Haydn's astonishing inventiveness." – The Sunday Times (London)


HAYDN String Quartets: op. 71/1–3 Takács Qrt Read more HYPERION 67793 (58:28)

HAYDN String Quartets: op. 74/1–3 Takács Qrt HYPERION 67781 (63:41)

It’s always a pleasure to review a Takács Quartet record, for the simple reason that it is among the half-dozen or so most famous string quartets in the world, and for a very good reason. It’s excellent, and always has been since it first appeared in 1975. Károly Schranz (second violinist) and András Fejér (cellist) remain from the original group to make sure such later arrivals as Edward Dusinberre (violin I) and Geraldine Walther (violist) stay in the right tradition.

With high standards being the group’s wont, there is nothing negative to report, only how effective its approach to these works is. I’m happy to say that the standard continues unabated here. Takács has the kind of sound I would describe as “pointed, with a sheen.” It does not pursue a rich-toned blend, as with the Amadeus or Emerson quartets, nor does it go in much for obvious rubato effects as the Tokyo Quartet does (these are not criticisms, merely differences of style and approach). I prefer a bit more play in performances of Haydn’s music, so for me these more straightforward readings are not quite as delightful as the recordings by the Buchberger Quartet on Brilliant 93889 (be forewarned, a complete set running 23 CDs), but they are certainly pleasing and would make a nice fit in your collection if you prefer the straightforward approach. For another example of what I mean, compare the reading of the op. 74, No. 3 quartet (here subtitled “Rider,” though I’ve known it all my life as the “Horseman” quartet) with the Budapest Quartet’s famous late-1940s version. Although Budapest was also famous in its time for objective readings of scores, its performance has, to my ears anyway, more character, but this is always a subjective criticism and has nothing to do with Takács’s integrity or lack of understanding. Because of the particular grouping, I’m wondering if these two CDs may not presage a complete recording of the Haydn quartets for Hyperion. I could not find any indications of this at either ArkivMusic or at Takács’s website.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings in C major, Op. 74 no 1/H 3 no 72 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Takács String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793; Vienna, Austria 
Quartet for Strings in F major, Op. 74 no 2/H 3 no 73 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Takács String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793; Vienna, Austria 
Quartet for Strings in G minor, Op. 74 no 3/H 3 no 74 "Rider" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Takács String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793; Vienna, Austria 

Featured Sound Samples

String Quartet in C, op 74 no 1: I. Allegro
String Quartet in G minor, op 74 no 3 "Rider": III. Menuetto. Allegretto - Trio

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Miraculous playing of wonderful music January 11, 2012 By Nathaniel R Brown (Edmonds, WA) See All My Reviews "Haydn’s quartets are in a way the summit of 18th century civilization: urbane, sophisticated, polished – they do not grapple with the agonies that Beethoven’s late quartets lay before us – their profundity lies rather in a master setting himself a problem, and then solving it, delighting to wield a master’s intricacy and wit. Haydn was of course, a fountain of good tunes, and in these quartets, as in the Op. 71 set (also recorded by this miraculous group of players) he sets up the “problem” with some of the most sprightly, or impish, or simple themes he penned, and then turns them loose to twist and delight in his wonderful developments.

The Takacs Quartet is perfect in this music, or as close to perfection as mere humans can go: they juggle with the playful bits, sing with the adagios, dance with the minuets… Edward Dunsinbarre must be the finest first violin since Adolph Bush, though utterly different: his playing has a wonderful “femininity” to it – like a good Margaux – which is utterly at one with the spirit of the music. Karoly Schranz is a superb conversationalist, as is Andras Fejer, who occasional irruptions never fail to add delightfully to the discourse – and Geraldine Walther is a rock-solid addition to the quartet at the viola chair.

Buy this recording, and while you are at it, buy the Op. 71 as well. You will never hear more civilized or delightful playing in this music. Others have played Haydn very well indeed – one thinks immediately of the Lindsays and the Jerusalem – but none have been so toe-curlingly or so joy-enducingly delightful in the aspects of this music which simply rejoice in being.
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